No, the COP28 agreement will not enable the world to hold the 1.5°C limit…
…but yes, the result is a pivotal land-mark.
The UN climate summit COP28 in Dubai closed. On this issue, PIK Directors Ottmar Edenhofer and Johan Rockström:
Johan Rockström, Earth system scientist and Co-Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research:
This agreement delivers on making it clear to all financial institutions, businesses and societies that we are now finally – 8 years behind the Paris schedule – at the true “beginning of the end” of the fossil-fuel driven world economy. Science called for a mitigation COP, and we got a mitigation COP, focused on the transition away from fossil-fuels. All stakeholders in the world must now act accordingly, and deliver on the COP28 Global Stocktake Agreement, which means rapidly transitioning away from oil, coal and gas, aiming at more than 40 % reductions by 2030 and reaching net-zero by 2050, as recognized in the text.
Yet, the transition away from fossil-fuel statement remains too vague, with no hard and accountable boundaries for 2030, 2040 and 2050. There is no recognition of the fact that scaling carbon dioxide removal technologies needs to occur in addition to fossil-fuel phase out, to have any chance of limiting global warming to 1.5°C. And there is no convincing plan on how the transition away from fossil-fuels will occur. We know it will not happen through national voluntary means alone. Collective, global agreements, on finance, carbon pricing, and technology exchange are also needed, at a scale that vastly exceeds what is now on the table.
Ottmar Edenhofer, climate economist and Co-Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research:
It is clear from the COP28 summary document, accepted by all states, that under the impact of the advancing climate crisis, there is now no more business-as-usual for the global economy. Now it’s about the end of the fossil fuel age – that is real progress. The call to action to move away from coal, oil and gas with the aim of achieving greenhouse gas neutrality by 2050 is an important point of reference for governments around the world. The EU member states with their major climate protection plan, the European Green Deal, should be encouraged to stay the course, as should the USA with its Inflation Reduction Act.In certain sectors, such as the chemical industry, we will still need oil and gas in 2050 – according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, we will by then only be able to forgo 67 and 90 percent of these, respectively. To compensate for this, CO2 must be removed from the atmosphere and stored underground. It is good that the COP summary document makes it clear that these processes should be used for sectors with emissions that are difficult to avoid, and not for a general ‘business-as-usual’ approach.The COP’s statements on the expansion of renewable energies by 30 percent by 2030, and on financial aid to compensate for climate damage and climate change adaptation, are also positive. Overall, the governments of the rich industrialised countries must provide extensive support to the Global South for the climate transition to succeed. To convey this politically, they will have to communicate clearly that doing nothing would be much more expensive. As early as 2030, the emission of one tonne of CO2 will cause around 400 euros in climate damage.To rapidly reduce the consumption of fossil fuels worldwide, we need credible announcements on continuous increases in carbon pricing and, at the same time, on financial compensation for the population and the economy. Carbon pricing must become more widespread and internationally linked. Climate tariffs, as announced by the EU, and a climate club, as initiated by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in the context of the G7 states, can help to ensure that the end of the fossil fuel age proclaimed by the COP can actually be heralded.
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